Worship through the Work of Your Hands
God invites us to meditate on his Word (Ps. 1:2). Art journaling is one of many ways to study and reflect on Scripture. Many people long to use their creativity to glorify God but don't know where to start, while others may feel as though their worship is limited by a lack of creative skills—hesitant to try art journaling because they aren't talented enough, don't have the right supplies, or are too perfectionistic. But as image bearers of the Creator, people are uniquely capable of worshipping him through the work of their hands (Ex. 35:31–33). God created you in his likeness and thus, all that you make is a reflection of him. Your Creator longs to be in relationship with you. Anything you lay at his feet in humble adoration is beautiful to him.
We've compiled a list of tips to help you begin engaging with your Bible artistically. Remember: These tips are not rules to be followed; rather, they are suggestions meant to encourage and motivate your creativity.
1. Gather your supplies.
It's easy for a beginner to worry about using the "correct" products and tools, but you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on high-quality art supplies. Though there is nothing wrong with investing in quality products, you would be surprised how many supplies you can find laying around your house—your children's crayons and watercolors, a cup of tea, flowers, magazine clippings, or some tissue paper. Be intentional about thinking out of the box. Check out our Bible Art Journaling Supplies Guide for ideas on how to get started.
It's also important to choose the right kind of pen or pencil when it comes to writing in your Bible, even if you're writing in a Bible with thicker paper (like the ESV Journaling Bible). Download our quick-reference Bible Writing Utensil Guide for more helpful information.
2. Start with the right mindset.
No matter how hard you try, it's easy to lose focus—even when immersed in the Bible. Though you desire to bring glory to God through your art, it's possible to get lost in the act of creating, forgetting that your end result doesn't need to be perfect to be pleasing to him.
As you prepare to engage with your Bible artistically, begin by setting your focus on the Lord. What of God's characteristics cause you to praise him? What prompts gratitude? What verses in Scripture cause you to approach his throne with reverence? By seeking first to worship at the feet of God, you guard against the insecurity that can overcome when you engage in self-focus. Your art isn't about you—it's about God. Allow this freedom to foster creativity and spontaneity in you as you work.
Prepare your heart by going to the Lord in prayer:
Lord, guide my heart and hands as I meditate on, wrestle with, and learn from your Word. As I seek after you with my heart, soul, and mind, guard me from the temptation to find fulfillment in the work of my own hands. Let all that I create worship and glorify you—the first and true Creator.
3. Let Scripture lead.
We all have favorite verses—some have seen us through heartache, some leave us in awe of God's creation, and some have served to draw us back to our Shepherd when we have gone astray. Journaling about your favorite verse is an easy place to start. If you need a quick prompt, turn to a beloved familiar verse.
But don't stop there! Turn also to unfamiliar passages—keep reading, seeking, searching, learning, praying through the text. Your creative expression will flow in response to the truths revealed in God's Word.
4. Be honest with God.
The Bible is full of passages containing beautiful, joyful sentiments. It also contains intense passages of pain, anguish and lamentation. Allow yourself to feel deeply, even as those in Scripture felt. Respond to the Lord with prayers of thanksgiving, heartbreak, anxiety, joy, and praise.
As your spiritual walk weathers peaks and valleys, trust that God is faithful and will sustain you. Pour your heart out to him and let his Word encourage you.
5. Prepare your pages.
Before grabbing your pen, marker, paint, or glue, you may want to begin by prepping your page. Gesso is a product that acts as a base coat for painting surfaces. Using it as a primer reduces wrinkling and will prevent the ink and paint from bleeding through to the other side of your page. It allows the page to remain flexible while providing a "toothy," water-resistant surface.
You can find gesso at most craft and art supply stores. It is available in clear, white, or black.
6. Add layers of artwork.
After your page has been prepped, begin working on a background. If you plan to include a drawing or writing later, first add a splash of color (or two). Then consider adding a little texture, though keep in mind that you want your surface to be conducive to the rest of your artwork—you may not be able to write over some paints.
Once your background has dried, keep going! Try adding decorative paper, bold brushstrokes, an image from a magazine, a photograph, stickers, or a drawing that represents the passage. Layer your pieces using spray adhesive, double-sided tape, a glue stick, mod podge, or even sew them to the page.
Mediums and techniques to try:
- abstract painting
7. Write, draw, or paint a quote or lyrics.
Music can be a helpful addition to your meditation. Take note of famous quotes by theologians or lyrics from hymns that enrich your enjoyment and understanding of the verse.
8. Close in prayer.
As you reflect on the passage, consider its application. Express your gratitude, awe, reverence, vulnerability, repentance, and love—pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. You may even include the prayer on the page. This will allow you to return at a later time and remember the ways God has been working in your life.
Featured in this post are the ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition and the ESV Journaling Bible. Browse our entire selection of ESV Journaling Bibles.